Recent studies suggest that 5-HTP supplements may be used as an antidepressant, appetite suppressant and sleep aid.
But before we call it a “magic pill”, it’s important to understand what 5-HTP is and what it does for the human body.
5-HTP, short for 5-Hydroxytryptophan, is a naturally occurring amino acid that is used by the human body to make the neurotransmitter serotonin, an important substance for normal nerve and brain function. 5-HTP is also an intermediate in tryptophan metabolism.
Serotonin is essential to regulate sleep, emotional moods, pain control and other body functions. Research suggests that low serotonin levels are a common consequence of modern living due to hectic lifestyle, irregular diet and stressful jobs.
Consequently, people have problems falling asleep, tend to develop poor diet practices, crave sugar and get frequent headaches. Most of these common problems can be prevented by raising brain serotonin levels. A high supply of 5-HTP can increase production of serotonin, leading to increased serotonin release.
5-HTP is not present in significant amounts in a typical diet, as the body manufactures it from L-Tryptophan, a natural amino acid found in proteins. Eating foods that contains L-Tryptophan does not increase 5-HTP levels and supplementation may be recommended. 5-HTP supplements come from plant sources, generally Griffonia Simplicifolia a woody climbing shrub native to Africa, and are safe to be taken.
Does 5-HTP work for everyone? Not necessarily. People are different and have different diets, sleep patterns and stress levels. However, most people should benefit from 5-HTP supplements to fight depression, promote better sleep and reduce migraine headaches.
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